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HISTORIC: E11BN SACU RECEIPTS

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MBABANE – The country’s cashflow crisis will be significantly reduced with a historic 102 per cent increase in receipts from the Southern African Customs Union (SACU).

Minister of Finance Neal Rijkenberg said yesterday that the country would get E11.75 billion in SACU receipts, which is a major increment from the E5.8 billion received in the previous financial year. Economists have said the development presented an opportunity for the State to fund core social development initiatives, such as tertiary education, drugs in hospitals and to reduce the debt burden.

Revenue

SACU receipts refer to the money that SACU member States share annually from the revenue they generate through the collection of customs duties. The amount due for each member State is determined by a formula approved by a council, mostly formed by ministers of Finance. The SACU receipts form one of the country’s major revenue generators after tax collection. Minister Rijkenberg said this was the highest share that the country had ever received from the regional bloc. He hinted that the nation could expect an increased budget as a result of this development because, over the years, government had been implementing aggressive expenditure cuts as a means to bring the fiscus to a sustainable path.

He said one of the contributing factors was the higher than projected outturn of the 2021/22 Common Revenue Pool (CRP). Surplus from this pool will be paid together with the 2023/24 revenue share. Another factor was the 25 per cent increase in the projected size of the CRP for 2023/24 compared to 2022/23. The minister said an increase in Eswatini’s share of total intra-SACU imports from 9.6 per cent in the revenue sharing framework for 2022/23 to 10.8 per cent in 2023/24 was also a contributing factor. “This means that the measures that the ministry has been implementing in order to enhance intra-SACU imports have started paying off,” he said.

Cars

One of the measures the minister spoke about was the Used Motor Vehicle Permit Specification Notice of 2020, which imposed restrictions on the importation of cars older than eight years. At the time, the minister had said the move was based on safety, environmental and human health. However, one of the direct benefits to the notice was the upsurge in SACU receipts that the country was now benefitting, two years later. Taking questions from this newspaper, the minister said the reduction of the age on grey imports was one of the means that government had applied to improve the fiscus. “We have been trying to, not at all, stop the fuel coming into the country from Mozambique. We definitely need to continue to import fuel (from Mozambique), between 20 and 30 per cent. It was getting close to 50 per cent but, we have been trying to move a percentage to SA to benefit our SACU receipts,” he said.

He clarified that the recent shortage of fuel had nothing to do with the ministry’s efforts to consolidate SACU receipts but was purely caused by logistical challenges. “We are talking of shipping to storage to trucking. That is what caused the fuel shortage,” he said.

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